20 Home Remedies for Cleaning Shoes

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Over time, both the interior and exterior of your footwear will show signs of wear, tear and overuse. Inside, odors start to develop from the moist, hot, sweaty environment as bacteria accumulate. On the outside, your shoes may show signs of mud, rainy days and salt. Luckily, home remedies for cleaning shoes can help enhance the appearance of your favorites.

Home Remedies for Cleaning Shoes

20 Home Remedies for Cleaning Shoes

You don’t always need the help of professionals or say goodbye to a pair of soiled shoes when you utilize some of the following home remedies for cleaning shoes:

a) Scented Fabric Softener Sheets:

A new dryer sheet placed into each sneaker can neutralize bad odors. Leave the fabric softener sheets in overnight.

b) Hair Conditioner:

Hair conditioner can help condition your leather shoes when you have run out of leather cleaner.

c) Ammonia:

When white-colored footwear and tennis shoes have become dingy, take a cloth dipped in half-strength ammonia (diluted with 50% water) and rub down the material.

d) Baking Soda:

Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda inside your smelly shoes and sneakers. In the morning, dump out the powder.

e) Cat Litter:

You can clear out unpleasant sneaker odor by filling and tying up a couple of old socks with scented cat litter. Place the knotted-up socks in the sneakers overnight, and in the morning – you will find fresher-smelling footwear. The cat litter helps absorb offensive smells, but you may have to repeat the process for extremely smelly shoes.

f) Milk [1]:

Enhance the look of patent-leather shoes by dabbing on a small amount of milk. Allow it to dry, and then buff with a soft cloth.

g) WD-40:

Dog poop on the bottom of your sneakers? It’s no problem when you have a can of WD-40 handy. Spray a small amount on the sole and use an old toothbrush to clean inside the crevices. Use cold water to rinse off the residue.

h) Vinegar:

To remove the white appearance of salt from your footwear, prevent long-term damage by wiping fresh stains with a cloth dipped in undiluted white vinegar.

i) Toothpaste:

Scuffed leather shoes respond to a little bit of toothpaste dabbed onto the scuffed area. Rub with a soft cloth, and then wipe clean with a damp cloth. The leather will look revamped. You can also use non-gel toothpaste to whiten the rubber part of your sneakers. Scrub the rubber with an old toothbrush, and wipe down with a damp cloth.

j) Nail Polish Remover:

To remove scuff marks from patent-leather or light-colored vinyl shoes, lightly rub down with a soft cloth or paper towel dipped in nail polish remover. Use a brisk motion as you work on the shoes. Use a damp cloth to remove any leftover residue.

k) White Out:

Correction fluid serves as a quick fix for scuffed white shoes – camouflaging the marks after it dries. For leather shoes, gently buff after the fluid has dried. There is no need to buff patent leather shoes after using this remedy.

l) Pencil Eraser:

To remove stains from suede shoes, try using a pencil eraser by lightly rubbing on the material. Use only when the stain is completely dry.

m) Nail File:

To remove scuff marks and dried mud from suede footwear, gently use a nail file.

n) Bath Oil:

You can use bath oil to remove pesky scuff marks from your patent-leather shoes. Apply a small amount to a clean, soft cloth or towel, and then gently rub into the material. Use a dry towel to polish the shoes afterwards.

o) Bananas:

Polish up your leather shoes by using the inside of a banana peel. First, remove the stringy material from the inside of the peel before using. Use a paper towel or soft cloth to buff the shoes.

p) Baby Wipes:

To add shine to white leather shoes, use a baby wipe.

q) Lemon:

Squeeze fresh lemon or add a bit of lemon juice to about four ounces of cool water. Shake or stir the contents to mix the ingredients. Dip a brand new sponge into the liquid and wring it out. Gently scrub the stain – adding more of the lemon water as needed. After cleaning, set the shoes outside in direct sunlight and leave out for several hours if they are made out of canvas or another kind of fabric. Do not put leather shoes outside to dry. The combination of the lemon and sun creates a bleaching effect that will remove the stain if the scrubbing did not work.

r) Lemon Juice and Cream of Tartar:

Combine equal amounts of lemon juice and cream of tartar to make a paste that can get rid of difficult stains from leather shoes.

s) Warm Soapy Water:

The plastic flip-flops and sandals that you wear during the summertime can easily become soiled. Wash with warm soapy water to clean. Hard-to-reach places on the shoes can be cleaned with a scrubbing of a toothbrush.

t) Bleach:

To clean white shoes, mix one part bleach to four parts water. With a small scrub brush dipped in the liquid, scrub out the stain. Using clean water, rinse the brush and continue to scrub at the stain until it has disappeared. If cleaning leather shoes, they must be completely dry. Treat them with shoe oil or paste because the bleach can cause the leather to dry and crack if it isn’t all removed. After the bleach treatment, set canvas or fabric shoes out in the sun.


[1] Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things by Reader’s Digest; pg. 212.


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